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Assumptions about human nature - primary data of a study with students of psychology and other subjects

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Name
Fahrenberg, Jochen

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Dataset Information

Title Assumptions about human nature - primary data of a study with students of psychology and other subjects
Original Title Annahmen ber den Menschen Primrdaten einer Umfrage bei Studierenden der Psychologie u.a. Fcher
Citation Fahrenberg, J. (2009). Assumptions about human nature - primary data of a study with students of psychology and other subjects [Translated Title] (Version 1) [Files on CD-ROM]. Trier: Center for Research Data in Psychology: PsychData of the Leibniz Institute for Psychology Information ZPID. https://doi.org/10.5160/psychdata.fgjn05an08
Language of variable documentation German
Responsible for Data Collection Fahrenberg, Jochen
Data Collection Completion Date 2005
Dataset Publication 2009
Dataset ID fgjn05an08
Study Description The concept of humanity is an individual pattern of core beliefs about what is human, and the meaning of life, the values and goals that one has for one's life (or should have). Each person learns and develops assumptions about humanity and takes on much of what is typical of their own families, groups, and communities: sociocultural and religious traditions, values, and answers to basic questions of life. The answers to the question "What is man?" are the pillars of philosophical anthropology, and are the beliefs that should be empirically examined in psychology, especially in differential psychology.
In a previous study, most respondents felt that psychologists', doctors', and judges' beliefs pertaining to the mind-body problem are likely to have consequences regarding their theories, methods, and professional practice (Fahrenberg, 1999). First semester psychology students are ideal candidates for this particular study, because their decision to study psychology and pursuit of a career in psychology are most likely motivated by their interest in people and basic existential questions.
The questionnaire contains 64 questions pertaining to the brain and consciousness, free will, evolution, religion, and interest in the meaning of life, faith, God, theodicy issues, truth, tolerance, and the ultimate justification of morality. The majority of participants are students of psychology at 7 universities in western and eastern Germany (563 participants), as well as students of philosophy, theology, humanities, and the natural sciences in Freiburg. The majority of the respondents are convinced that such philosophical views concerning brain and consciousness (mind-body problem) and free will have important implications for professional practice by psychotherapists, doctors, and judges.
The items were grouped thematically and analyzed using cluster and factor analysis. Important concepts include monism-dualism-complementarities, atheism-agnosticism-deism-theism, attitudes toward transcendence-imminence, self-reports of personal religiosity, and interest in the meaning of life question. Among the students of psychology, few differences were found between men and women and first and middle term students. Significant differences exist, especially pertaining to religiosity, between students in the former West Germany and the former East Germany. The database facilitates (after weighting and controls) quasi-representative statements on the major components of psychology students' conceptions of humanity and can detect characteristic differences of these concepts compared to those of students of the natural sciences.
Hypotheses Primarily, this is a descriptive study. A profile was developed concerning the basic beliefs of psychology students in their 1st semester. It was expected that differences would be found between the students in their 1st semester and those in more advanced semesters. 2 specific features - membership in a religious community and a self-designation into a religion - were expected to be marked differences between students from eastern and western Germany, a difference already established in many other representative surveys. Individual foreknowledge concerning the topics of the questionnaire varied, but it was expected that this would have, as in the previous investigation, hardly any influence on the assessment of occupational implications. Significant correlations were expected between (1) views on ontological aspects of epiphenomenalism, monism, dualism, and complementarity, (2) the God belief, or atheism, agnosticism, deism, theism, and (3) attitudes toward transcendence/immanence and (4) to paranormal phenomena. Possible differences between students from different majors (only at the University of Freiburg) were considered.
Keyphrase assumptions about humans & brain & consciousness & free will & evolution & religion & meaning of life & theodicy & morality & pluralism & 800 students of psychology & philosophy & theology & nature sciences in eastern & western Germany & primary data
Funding -
Rating This questionnaire survey was not a representative survey following an exact sampling plan. So that the study findings could be (with caution) generalized, the survey covered universities in both western and eastern Germany. The aim was to compile surveys of every 1st semester psychology student. Concerning students of other majors, the questionnaire was simply distributed and then later collected. Thus, this was only a "chance sampling" of the most motivated participants. The students with majors other than psychology who were here surveyed were students at the Freiburg and Berlin (philosophy) universities. In terms of generalizing, the roughly representative information concerning freshman students of psychology could be weighted. In contrast, certain correlations or statistical tests of hypothetical East-West differences were based on the unweighted data in an effort to use all surveyed information.

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PSYNDEX Classification and Controlled Terms

Classification Philosophy
Religion
Controlled Terms Human Nature
World View
Psychology
Philosophies
Religion
Religious Beliefs
Volition
Freedom
Dualism
Mind
Data Collection

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Research Method Description

Research Method Description Questionnaire Data
Classification of Data Collection Fully Standardized Survey Instrument (provides question formulation and answer options)
Research Instrument A preliminary version of the questionnaire was used for teaching new college students to address philosophical and ideological presuppositions using the example of the mind-body problem to address this and to ask about possible consequences of psychology. From these expanded study aims - the desire to include more topics and the aim to identify a structure in the belief systems - the following development tasks for the new questionnaire crystallized: (1) The questionnaire is designed to be equally suitable for students of various majors, but should not require any specialized terminology and does not attempt to provide philosophical clarification concerning the numerous, often difficult, concepts presented within. It should be possible for students to complete with their existing preconceptions (though whether an interest in such philosophical questions exist and whether the participant has already explored these questions should be determined).
(2) The concept of humanity is described in terms of selected central beliefs, though, in addition to simple items, trilemma or content-contrary item pairs and scales will be used.
(3) The educational aspect is to be retained through drawing attention to both common opinions and notable individual differences.
(4) The possible consequences of philosophical presuppositions should be scientifically and critically examined.
(5) It should be methodologically suitable for describing patterns (item clusters or belief systems) and to test correlation hypotheses, for exploration of group differences between students of psychology, philosophy, theology, and science, and for examination of relationships with religion and socio-demographic variables (as well as others). The former questionnaire was accordingly revised, simplified, and extended by including a number of important issues. Concerning topics focused on the human image, subject matter encompasses the brain and consciousness; free will, religion and interest in meaning of life questions; faith in God and atheism; transcendence and immanence; theodicy issues; beliefs about supernatural (paranormal) phenomena; creationism; special position of man in evolution; nature-nurture issues; the meaning of life; Christianity and other religions; truth, tolerance, and the ultimate justification of a moral, multicultural setting. Some topics had graded response options as scales. Within 3 central themes, the issues are presented as a trilemma so that the inconsistencies can be clearly displayed and, following reflection of these, the subject's own position can be revealed. The beliefs (opinions) concerning the image of man have been formulated as declarative sentences. These statements are to be rated as either true or false. The option to decide between 2 alternative answers was not given in order to avoid a tendency in subjects to respond to questions in the affirmative; however, some answer couples were formulated as opposing theses. Additionally, sentence structure was kept as simple as possible, avoiding double negatives and using as few technical terms and foreign words (placed only in parentheses) as possible.
Data Collection Method Data collection in the presence of an experimenter
- Group Administration
Time Points single measurement
Survey Time Period -
Characteristics -
Population (1) Students of psychology taking required undergraduate courses, (2) Students of philosophy, theology, science (physics, chemistry, etc.), humanities taking required undergraduate courses, and (3) psychology students in their 3rd and 5th semesters.
Experimental Pool Individuals
Sample Convenience sample
Subject Recruitment Lecturers invited participation. The questionnaires were issued by colleagues during various educational events at psychology institutes in the old and new German States.
Sample Size N=796 individuals
Return/Drop Out Department of psychology: Of the approximately 900 event attendees, 713 (83%) participated in the questionnaire survey. Of these, 93 (13%) delivered incomplete questionnaires and were therefore excluded from the statistical analysis. In other departments, of the 305 people who participated in the study, 53 (17%) were excluded from further analysis due to incomplete questionnaires. As the exact numbers concerning attendees of these events was unknown, an exact number concerning the rate of survey return cannot be given. All returned questionnaires were evaluated if they met the specific requirements. To begin with, 4 main items had to be answered: subject's view concerning the principles of being, the brain-consciousness trilemma, the trilemma question of free will, and the God-question (scale). Also, in the variable range "ENGAGED" to "GLAUB7" and "BERZ1" to "WAHR6", only a maximum of 4 items could be unanswered.
Gender Distribution 71,4 % female subjects (n=567)
28,6 % male subjects (n=227)
Age Distribution 18-47 years
Special Groups -
Country Germany
Region -
City -
Variables study subject group
subject's major (major, semesters completed, University in East or West Germany, department)
age
gender
brain and consciousness (mind-body problem, and general beliefs concerning "being")
free will
previous experience concerning the study of the brain, consciousness, and free will
possible effects of subjective beliefs (concerning the brain, consciousness, free will) on their profession
origin of life, unique position of man
nature-nurture issues (personality traits, human behavior)
supernatural associations
self-assessment of religiosity and an interest in questions concerning the meaning of life
belief in God, various aspects of the God-belief
existence of life after biological death
christianity and other religions
theodicy (God's justice and vindication in the face of evil in the world)
questions concerning meaning and morality
truth and tolerance
membership in a religious community or denomination
eucation and state residence (the subject, father and mother)

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Data Status

Data Status Complete Data Set
Original Records Questionnaire filled out by either the subject or the experimenter containing closed and/or open answers
Transformation Data from the subjects were coded and then immediately transferred into a machine-readable form

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Description of the Provided Data

Description Primary dataset
File Name fgjn05an08_pd.txt
Data Content 796 subjects, 78 variables
Data Points 796*78= 62088 data points
Variables study samples (1), college major (1,) completed semesters (1), Universities in East or West Germany (1), department (1), age (1), gender (1), brain and consciousness (mind-body issues, and general principles concerning "being") (4), free will (3), preceding studies on brain, consciousness, and free will (1), possible impact of subjective beliefs concerning brain, consciousness, free will on future professions (3), origin of life, special position of man (8), nature-nurture issue (personality characteristics, human behavior) (3), supernatural associations (5), self-assessment of religiosity and interest in questions concerning the meaning of life (2), belief in God and the various aspects of God-belief (7), existence following biological death (3), christianity and other religions (9), theodicy (God's justice and vindication in the face of evil in the world) (3), questions of meaning and morality (6), truth and tolerance (6), membership in a religious community or denomination (2), education and resident state (the subject, father and mother) (6)
MD5 Hash 5f8eaf266302ca540b2be2f3bf49578a
  
Description Primary dataset with derived variables
File Name fgjn05an08_ad.txt
Data Content 796 subjects, 85 variables
Data Points 796*85= 67660 data points
Variables study samples (1), college major (1,) completed semesters (1), Universities in East or West Germany (1), department (1), age (1), gender (1), brain and consciousness (mind-body issues, and general principles concerning "being") (4), free will (3), preceding studies on brain, consciousness, and free will (1), possible impact of subjective beliefs concerning brain, consciousness, free will on future professions (3), origin of life, special position of man (8), nature-nurture issue (personality characteristics, human behavior) (3), supernatural associations (5), self-assessment of religiosity and interest in questions concerning the meaning of life (2), belief in God and the various aspects of God-belief (7), existence following biological death (3), christianity and other religions (9), theodicy (God's justice and vindication in the face of evil in the world) (3), questions of meaning and morality (6), truth and tolerance (6), membership in a religious community or denomination (2), education and resident state (the subject, father and mother) (6), trilemma variables (3), faith in God (attitude scale) (1), variable weighting (3)
MD5 Hash db0e574498259288b6e8da472f910cbc
  

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Description of Additional Materials

Description File Name
German codebook of primary dataset fgjn05an08_pd.tx fgjn05an08_kb.txt
German codebook of primary dataset with derived variables fgjn05an08_ad.txt fgjn05an08_aa.txt

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Publications Directly Related to the Dataset

Publications Directly Related to the Dataset
Fahrenberg, J. & Cheetham, M. (2007). Assumptions about human nature and impact of philosophical concepts on professional issues. A questionnaire-based study with 800 students from psychology, philosophy, and science. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, 14 (3), 183-201 (Commentaries pp. 203-214).
Fahrenberg, J. (2006a). Was denken Studierende der Psychologie ber das Gehirn-Bewusstsein-Problem, ber Willensfreiheit, Transzendenz, und den Einfluss philosophischer Vorentscheidungen auf die Berufspraxis? Journal fr Psychologie, 2006, 14, 302-330.Datensatz 0195144
Fahrenberg, J. (2006b). Psychologische Anthropologie - Eine Fragebogenstudie zum Menschenbild von 800 Studierenden der Psychologie, Philosophie und Naturwissenschaften. In: e-Journal Philosophie der Psychologie 5 (2006), URL: http://www.jp.philo.at/texte/FahrenbergJ1.pdf (Stand: 05.03.2009)
Fahrenberg, J. (2006c). Annahmen ber den Menschen. Eine Fragebogenstudie mit 800 Studierenden der Psychologie, Philosophie, Theologie und Naturwissenschaften. (Forschungsbericht Nr. 164). Universitt Freiburg i. Br.: Institut fr Psychologie. In: Verzeichnis der Forschungsberichte online, URL: http://www.psychologie.uni-freiburg.de/forschung/index.html/fobe90.html (Stand: 05.03.2009)Datensatz 0185685

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Further Reading

Further Reading
Fahrenberg, J. (1999). Das Leib-Seele-Problem aus der Sicht von Studierenden verschiedener Fcher. Zeitschrift fr Klinische Psychologie, Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, 47, 207-220.Datensatz 0130092
Fahrenberg, J. (2004). Annahmen ber den Menschen. Menschenbilder aus psychologischer, biologischer, religiser und interkultureller Sicht. Heidelberg, Krning: Asanger-Verlag. Datensatz 0166155
Fahrenberg, J. (2007). Menschenbilder. Psychologische, biologische, interkulturelle und religise Ansichten. Psychologische und Interdisziplinre Anthropologie. Online in Internet, URL: http://psydok.sulb.uni-saarland.de/volltexte/2007/981 (Stand: 05.03.2009)
Fahrenberg, J. (2008). Gehirn und Bewusstsein. Neurophilosophische Kontroversen In: S. Gauggel und M. Herrmann (Hrsg.). Handbuch der Neuro- und Biopsychologie (S. 28-43). Gttingen: Hogrefe.Datensatz 0217263

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